I’ve been following Kickstarter fairly active the last few months, and I’ve seen some devices pass by that get in the same niche as goTenna.
I know that in the freedom of thought and commercial world we live in, you might not want to stop this. As for me, I would find it a pity that there were several systems competing to do the same, in stead of working together. And creating an even bigger network.
Further more, perhaps there are patents involved …
So with no disrespect to goTenna, this is what passed me by:
I feel the same way. I like a lot of things about goTenna, but there are some things that I would change (open source, more bandwidth, PTT), but instead of continuing to look for another solution, I decided on goTenna primarily because of the existing user base. They could gain all these features as the protocol evolves.
I spent a couple years looking for this type of off-grid, secure communications and honestly, nothing comes close to what we have with goTenna. Firechat didn’t want to work at all for me, Serval Mesh is still in development and only runs on Android. Beartooth supports voice but doesn’t encrypt and doesn’t mesh, and utilizing WiFi or Bluetooth gives you such a short range that it’s easier to walk over and talk to the person.
It’s a shame that people and companies can’t seem to sit down, work together, and adhere to cross-platform standards and protocols. It seems that SMS and email will be the last universal standards of communication.
I’ve followed GoTenna since their first Kickstarter, and have followed these other “clones” and have nothing positive to say about them, though I wish I could. This is the first time I hear about “GoHeart”, but that Kickstarter campaign is basically lifted from the GoTenna Mesh campaign, and yeah, I’ll buy a device from Bob the CEO. And look at the comments, a few already are calling out all the inadequacies (to put it mildly) of this campaign.
Sonnet has always been sketchy, and with time it gets more and more. Notice that they have blown past their shipping date more than once by always making excuses that they’re adding more features. They overpromised, and the goal was ridiculously (laughably, like in the low tens-of-thousands) cheap since the beginning. They made a dual crowdfunding campaign, on scam-friendly Indiegogo, and on Kickstarter (which actually now links to their Indiegogo campaign, where they can still keep receiving money!).
One of the things that constrained both the original goTenna and Mesh are regulations. Sonnet seems to live in a world where regulations don’t exist (or sometimes the laws of physics apparently) and just keep promising feature after feature that most certainly won’t pass FCC muster. I understand that there are other countries with their own regulations, but still they are very liberal with their promising of features, especially those which are glaring omissions from the products already out (goTenna Mesh and Beartooth), like audio and photo sharing and other high-bandwidth features that would be very difficult to implement in this form factor and frequencies.
The GoToky seems to be following Sonnet’s cue, down to the dual-campaign and their kickstarter linking to the Indiegogo one.
Beartooth seems to be the only one of the competition that actually shipped, and the device seems to be abandoned with very poor support. Promised updates for Mesh capability and encryption never came, nobody knows if they will. The people who pre-ordered waited for a long time (IIRC it was years), and then some started receiving theirs just like that, but with incomplete firmware/software https://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=737633
See these for a detailed review of the Beartooth and an update:
I don’t think patents are issues here, from what I understand mesh and other relevant patents can be readily licensed. I think too early for something like a consortium setting standards as no product is a developed as Gotenna. It’s still Gotenna with encrypted messaging or Beartooth with PTT vs under-developed, wishful thinking or vaporware. I’d like to see what can be done.
That doesn’t seem too much like the others though. Even in their chart they’re comparing it to the Garmin inReach Mini, which actually may or may not be a better deal depending on your usage. The $35,000 goal seems very low as well, but it doesn’t seem overly sketchy as Sonnet or the others mentioned in the OP. If I were to get this it would be for emergency only, you can’t really chat on it without spending loads of $$$. I’d still carry gotennas or walkies to communicate with each other in a group.
+++++ 1 on this post. So much vaporware out there, it’s really astounding how unoriginal people are (cf goToky or goHeart — couldn’t even come up with an original name, lol) — say whatever you want about goTenna (if we’re on this board we have opinions about the product, after all!), they have multiple generations of their product in market and they’re super-responsive to feedback. (Case in point: my goTenna Mesh just doubled in hops with the 5.0 app/firmware release!)
Anyway, I’ve said it before but Beartooth is garbage, and Sonnet’s promises are bunk. See below:
It’s amazing to me how people can keep falling for this, and how Indiegogo keeps not just enabling, but encouraging and fueling scam after scam without repercussion. I mean, they let people sell free energy machines and other such ridiculous nonsense there. I could go on for 1000 more words about how Indiegogo sucks but I won’t here.
I was actually surprised that Beartooth shipped to be honest. It all seemed the same vaporware as the others with too many enticing promises, some of which actually did turn out to be too good to be true. The thing about it is if the company was more competent (and honest), I could see them succeeding, but that ship has sailed.
Regarding Sonnet, I don’t even think they’re operating in good faith, it’s so ridiculous.
Recent update to the FRS classification has allowed texting and gps tracking device to device.
Doesn’t look like there is any mesh networking (I only have a pair of units). I’ve been trying out a pair for the last few weeks and range is the standard on any FRS radio. FCC testing indicates 750mW transmission power, though 2 watts is advertised.
To me, this reads as them just stating that the maximum allowable power is 2 Watts, not what the actual transmit power is. When I contacted Motorola directly, they never responded. Also the official responses on Amazon seem to skirt around the actual answer.
Unlike the the GoTenna mesh testing which is pretty darn close to the maximum allowable power.
Don’t know for sure, but I suspect anyone using mesh emission propagation in the 900 mHz ISM band has the same set of rules to play by that goTenna does. Plus it is stated at 2 watts maximum, which verbiage certainly leaves room for some lower transmitting power limit in the device.
Sound like the marketing folks didn’t feel that trying to explain the difference between voice and text outputs. That’s understandable for a mass market device, but Motorola should be smart enough to explain it if someone bothers to inquire. It’s possible that no one has bothered to internally educate those who may need to explain this somewhat arcane bit of knowledge when inquiry is made.
The Motorola T800 does not transmit on the 900Mhz ISM band. It transmits on FRS/GMRS (462Mhz) frequencies with the new limit of 2W. They are also not “mesh” devices as this is still prohibited at these frequencies.
Motorala does have radios much closer to the 2W max
However it looks like the T800 missed this power upgrade.
The main benefit of going from 500mW to 2W for FRS is double the range. All things being equal, it takes quadruple the power to get double the range for radio (inverse square law).
I am not really expecting these to be a replacement for Gotennas as the GoTenna is a far superior product, it would just be nice if this new Motorola radio which did take advantage of the new rules that allow sending data, also took advantage of the new power requirements.
OK, I misread there. But it wouldn’t surprise me if a lower power was still required than for voice emissions.
Several reasons for this being so. Probably the most practical is that the text emissions at the lower power probably out-ranges the voice emission, although I’ve got no experience with this radio. Anyone have some that could tell us more about that comparison?
This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version (GPLv3+), plus the additional terms set out in the following section.
PyMesh LoRa Mesh Network Workshop from The Things Conference 2019
Other Interesting Bits
iOS and Android apps available
several ESP32 dev boards with external antenna capability
Interesting, but also intimidating to those of us who don’t develop software.
The idea of open source can be very appealing to those with such skills, but leaves the other 95% of humankind rather baffled. I say this not to deprecate the idea of open source, but to point out how it’s benefits mainly accrue to the few who do have such skills. Open source makes the inner workings of such projects more usable for the few, but tends to make the outcome more limited for the general public.
A good example of how this happens is the first question I have: Is this FCC-approved? Digging around in the extensive documentation briefly did not turn up a ready answer.
I suspect that with 34 bands across such a wide spectrum (699 Mhz to 2.140 Ghz) that large parts of this bandplan are significantly restricted according to which country it operates in. This would tend to make it more useful for hams, but could lead to others operating on bandwidth that is not authorized. This likely legally works for selling kits to roll you own, but may not allow the sale of consumer devices without such functionality restricted according to legal parameters extant in each jurisdiction - which is what goTenna is able to do.
I share your concern, and the lack of plug-and-play software is why I was reticent regarding the disaster.radio and CATAN projects. The neat thing about this is the open source software already works for end-users. If one isn’t a developer, it’s there. If one wants to extend or improve it, or if the company folds, that potential exists.
The end-user PyGo devices (similar to GTM) are also FCC, CE, RCM, IC, and LoRa Alliance certified [PDF]
The way I mentioned this above likely added confusion. That 34 bands comment only applies to the cellular/LTE chip on the board, not the other 4 radios (WiFi, Bluetooth, LoRa, or Sigfox) on the FiPy. In the US, it works on Verizon initially, and potentially other providers as they roll out
LTE-M CAT M1/NB1 services (cellular data for IoT devices).
The PyGo devices are… certified for FCC, CE, RCM and IC… cellular network certified to work out of the box [source]
Not that GTM doesn’t have a lot of advantages, but PyMesh currently has an edge on this point. GTM is not FCC approved to sell the boards, hence the hacks required to add external antennas. PyMesh dev boards with antenna connectors (LoPy, FiPy, etc.) and built-devices (PyGo 1 & 2) are both FCC approved.
It would be awesome if goTenna released a dev board. I’ve seen others make that comment in other forum threads.
Thanks for locating that FCC info. It’s instructive.
In the 900 MHz ISM band, the devices are limited by the FCC to under 0.1 W. In other bands, they are allowed up to ~ 0.2 W. That’s starkly less power than the 1 W GTM, suggesting that the flexibility on other points, including ones attractive to open source projects, by the FCC is possible, but only at the loss of capability.
I could be wrong, but I doubt this is mere happenstance. I think the FCC is being pretty cautious about the power available to users, one of the big factors I suspect the FCC is concerned holds the potential to cause interference to other ISM band users unless it is closely controlled.
I suspect that even leaving other factors aside, it’s FCC regulation which is the primary factor limiting goTenna from releasing code that is open source. It might be possible to release development boards for the GTM, but I’d bet if this were allowed their output would be more in line with the Py hardware than it would be with the current GTMs.
LoRa uses a proprietary chirp spread-spectrum technology specifically designed to squeeze out every last bit of range while mainaining low power consumption. I don’t know enough about the modulation goTenna uses to make a theoretical comparison. I do know there’s more under the hood of digital RF connections than power alone, so I’m deferring to the tests and experiences of others, including yourself.
From what I’ve read in the forums so far, the longest ground-ground GTM connection is around 50 mi. “The guy with the Swiss accent” on YouTube successfully connected 2 LoRa radios at 201 km (125 mi).
That isn’t to say goTenna and/or LoRa can’t go farther by changing variables. Either way, I’m evaluating options that will handle roughly up to 11 miles (with elevation) between repeaters, so both are sufficient in theory. What would be a significant difference, as you point out with FCC power restrictions, is the LoRa connections are being made with less power. I read somewhere in the forums that the GTM devices have been measured in the 140-200mA range for TX, compared with LoRa at 20mA. Even if I don’t understand the secret engineering sauce either are using, that’s a significant measured power difference which has real implications, particularly in sizing battery and charging systems for base/repeater nodes.
My suspicion is that GTM will handle more connections in a mesh, and that choices surrounding the RF variables were made to support more connections while sacrificing some power efficiency. PyMesh tops out at 200 mesh connections, which if I understand correctly, is partially a limitation from the use of LoRa. That 200 can be increased with gateways, but it’s worth considering.
For my use-case, power consumption is more of an issue than 200+ local connections. But I’m aware that being off-grid 2° below the Arctic circle with no other wireless options makes me an edge case.
If I could more easily attach an external antenna to a GTM via a connector, I would already have ordered some. Alas, it seems the FCC rules which apply to goTenna devices makes that a dicey enough proposition that it’s not (yet?) an option. That’s not a deal-breaker, it just makes my decision harder.